The Age of Entitlement
Make no mistake, the Age of Entitlement is definitely nigh. Don’t look at under 30 somethings and blame them. We are all to blame. It’s us. We are the Age of Entitlement – all of us alive right now.
My friend’s 6 year old child gave me more to think about in a conversation recently, than anything else I’ve heard or seen from anyone over the age of 6 in recent years. His mother, obviously as part of teaching her son new words, asked her son what the word ‘Free‘ meant. He quickly responded, “It’s worth nothing.”
We want it free, we want it cheap because we think we deserve it. We don’t care that we have to go to work and earn money so that we can buy the things we want, we still look at other products and expect them to be cheap or free, irrespective of who went to work to get that product in front of you. The Age of Entitlement began when you were born, when your parents gave you something and you accepted it. When later you wanted more, you learned the art of negotiation.
I once read a book by an amazing author called Paulo Coehlo, you might never have read any of his books because he’s never discounted them or given them away for free. In one of his books he mentions a story in which a man asks his son to go to the market to buy something. His father says to the son, “Don’t pay too much and don’t pay too little.” The child understood the former, but he questioned his father on the latter. His father explained to him that when you undervalue someone’s work, you undervalue a whole life of that person’s worth. It is one thing to negotiate them down to a reasonable cost, but quite another to destroy their spirit in the process by telling them that their goods are worth nothing and therefore offering them much less than it is worth.
We have billions of websites today which allow you to understand the true value of something. Yet we still continually search high and low to find one that offers it to us for free or extremely cheap.
I recently wrote a blog about giving away books for free here and I maintain that as an author, you spend months/years writing a book that is hopefully worth reading, only to have others expect you to give it to them for free. They don’t care that you worked hard for that book, paid thousands to have it edited, create a cover, marketing so that they could find it, they don’t care, they want it free regardless. Welcome to the Age of Entitlement.
As part of my marketing, I posted on Facebook some time ago that I had written a book and that I would be honoured if my own friends would download a copy. I informed my friends that the book was 99c in it’s opening week. This is a strategy that is required in order to get high downloads in the opening week so that your book climbs the charts quickly. Then when you raise your prices, you are hopefully starting from a high visibility vantage point. During this announcement on Facebook, a ‘friend’ said that she would wait until it was 50c. I couldn’t help but comment and query why? She told me that she was poor and that she couldn’t even afford 50c. I joked with her that perhaps I could drop the book to 20c so that she could buy it. Her response? “Well you’d have to drop it to 10c.”
There you go. I spent a year writing and editing a book, spent thousands, just so one of my own friends could tell me from the outset that her respect for me amounted to 10c. I can’t remember exactly where I buried her body, it’s around here somewhere. There are times in your life when you realise your value outweighs those of others.
It’s not the point that she asked for the book to be made 10c, it’s the fact that two things went through my mind. The first is, if I literally give the book away, she won’t appreciate it. Secondly, where is a tiny little bit of respect for me as an author and friend for going out on a limb and writing a damn book? As a woman who is unemployed, with two kids to feed, shouldn’t she understand that a friend of hers has gone out and done something? Instead of buying a packet of cigarettes a day, perhaps evaluate what’s more improtant to you and begin to understand value a little better. For starters, think about someone else for a change and what they’ve been through.
There are moments like today when you realise that the Age of Entitlement isn’t working for anyone anymore. Even when we get that damn book at 10c, we probably wouldn’t waste our time reading it. And if we did, we might enjoy it or we might not, but we certainly wouldn’t respect the author and go and take a few seconds to review it to help promote their sales. This isn’t about them and their hard work, this is about us and our obsession with getting things for free or cheap; not to respect such acquisitions or to make someone else feel better. That generation died a long time ago.
You go to work and you expect amenties, such as coffee, water, occasionally snacks. You expect to get paid for the work that you just did. Why screw someone down to the lowest price possible and undervalue their worth without actually evaluating their wares?
Once my book went from 99c to $2.99, I noticed something interesting. Sales went up. I actually have sold consistently more copies of my books at the higher price than when it was at 99c. Why? I think I know why.
The Age of Entitlement reflects on a generation who want to get things for free or cheap because we don’t take the time to respect that someone else had to work hard to bring those things to you. We take something at face value and quickly assess that it is valued at our own estimation. If the book is priced at 99c, then it is worth that, perhaps less. If the book is priced at $4.99, then it is worth that. There are far too many people in this world, who price something at a much higher price then go and discount it to make the discount look genuine. It’s ridiculous, yet it works. Because it appeals to the Age of Entitlement who expect discounts or something for nothing.
The other interesting thing is the free business. If it’s free, it’s probably not worth anything. Authors and artists take note, you might be tempted by instant gratification of visibility by giving your work away for free, but at what cost? Your product will forever be seen as exactly that, free and therefore, worth nothing. Even a 6 year old can tell you that much.
Steam valve closed.
Speaking of value, how about a 99c book that’s about to go up to full price soon? Take your pick, there’s currently 3 to choose from.